Shelf Awareness for Thursday, July 9, 2020

University of Texas Press: Grief Is a Sneaky Bitch: An Uncensored Guide to Navigating Loss by Lisa Keefauver

Berkley Books: Hair-raising horror to sink your teeth into!

Berkley Books: The Hitchcock Hotel by Stephanie Wrobel

Queen Mab Media: Get Our Brand Toolkit

Ballantine Books: Gather Me: A Memoir in Praise of the Books That Saved Me by Glory Edim

Ace Books: Rewitched by Lucy Jane Wood

Graywolf Press: We're Alone: Essays by Edwidge Danticat

St. Martin's Press: Runaway Train: Or, the Story of My Life So Far by Erin Roberts with Sam Kashner


ABA Expanding Board, Will Have Minimum of Four BIPOC Booksellers

Two bylaw changes sought by the American Booksellers Association will increase the number of board members to 13 from 11 and "commit a minimum of four of those 13 seats to be held by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) booksellers, of which a minimum of two shall be Black booksellers." As soon the bylaw changes are approved by membership, the board will seek board nominations from members, and a new nominating committee that includes two people of color, including at least one Black bookseller, will review the nominations, interview the nominees, and make recommendations to the board. The board will appoint two Black booksellers to serve until the next election cycle begins, in early spring 2021. At that time, these appointees can run as incumbents in the new election for a regular three-year term.

The ABA Board at Winter Institute in January.

In a letter to members in yesterday's Bookselling This Week outlining the changes, president Jamie Fiocco of Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, N.C., said that the bylaw changes aim immediately to address "our lack of diversity and representation on the board." She noted that "in ABA's history there has only been one Black board director. We wish to acknowledge our failures and focus on actual system changes to ensure the erasure of Black voices no longer continues."

She added: "Our commitment to change includes reinventing how the board operates: improved communication with membership and staff, a wider sharing of institutional knowledge, and a decentralization of responsibility. We are discussing a yearly diversity, equity, and inclusion audit of the board along with regular antiracist training and making diversity part of our DNA rather than a hackneyed word sprinkled throughout our governance documents. Our aim is to build value for all members, and part of that must involve a focus on BIPOC booksellers. To do this, we need to listen to BIPOC voices, increase the speed in which these voices can inform, and increase the number of talented people engaged in ABA initiatives. We remain committed to all diversity and are also acknowledging that our efforts to include BIPOC voices have moved too slowly."

BINC: Click to Apply to the Macmillan Booksellers Professional Development Scholarships

NYC's Bank Street Bookstore Closing Permanently

Founded in 1970, the Bank Street Bookstore in New York City is closing permanently at the end of August. In an announcement on the store's website, manager Caitlyn Morrissey wrote in part, "Despite our efforts to strengthen sales over the past few years and our wonderfully knowledgeable booksellers, the temporary closure of the store since mid-March combined with the challenge and cost of meeting ongoing social distancing measures has led us to this decision."

Morrissey noted that the store opened in the lobby of Bank Street College of Education. "Originally intended as a small store serving the needs of the College community, the Bookstore grew into a resource for the neighborhood and for parents and educators worldwide. The Bookstore also regularly welcomed authors and illustrators for special events, creating a space for children and their families to find joy in books together and foster a shared love of reading.

"Historically, children's literature has been a significant part of Bank Street's work, beginning in 1937 with The Writers Lab--a workshop for published authors to encourage and critique each other's works-in-progress. The program, which continues to operate today, focuses on producing high-quality children's literature that shows an understanding and appreciation of the language of growing children, is aware of and responsive to children's real and imagined worlds, and affirms the social and cultural heritage of every child."

Morrissey added, "We will continue to look for ways to honor and maintain Bank Street's important history and deep expertise around children's books. As Bank Street Founder Lucy Sprague Mitchell said so precisely in our mission statement, 'We see in education the opportunity to build a better society' and books--with their ability to help children discover and learn more about the world--can be tools to do just that."

In danger of closing in 2015 when the lease on its space expired, Bank Street Bookstore was able to move five blocks to its present location on Broadway at 107th Street in Manhattan.

Watkins Publishing: Fall Into Folklore! ARCS Available On Request

S&S Establishes Carolyn Kroll Reidy Memorial Scholarship Program

Carolyn Reidy

To promote diversity in publishing and to honor the legacy of Carolyn Reidy, the former president and CEO of Simon & Schuster, who died May 12, S&S has established the Carolyn Kroll Reidy Memorial Scholarship in partnerships with four publishing programs: the Columbia Publishing Course, the New York University SPS Summer Publishing Institute, the Pace University MS in Publishing Program and the University of Denver's Publishing Institute. The scholarship program, which S&S will fund for five years, will grant awards to students based on financial need and academic merit, and is specifically intended for candidates from historically underrepresented groups in the publishing industry.

Jonathan Karp, president and CEO of S&S, said, "During her time as CEO, Carolyn actively embraced and spearheaded Simon & Schuster's efforts to improve diversity within our company. She was also a fervent supporter of the publishing institutes, generously sharing her wisdom and enthusiasm for publishing with students in multiple keynote addresses. We are delighted and grateful to partner with these four excellent publishing courses, each with a stellar record for launching entry-level employees into publishing careers. I can't think of a more fitting way to honor Carolyn's legacy while helping to create a publishing industry that better reflects who we are as a nation today."

Karp announced the scholarships yesterday during the online memorial service for Reidy, which featured remembrances and tributes by him as well as by her husband, Stephen Reidy, and Lisa Lucas, Joe Kanon, Michael Selleck, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Steve Rubin, Hillary Clinton, Susan Moldow and Adam Rothberg. Befitting Carolyn Reidy, it was a funny, lovely, smartly done if deeply sad event, and can be viewed here.

Nan A. Talese Retiring at End of Year

Nan Talese in 2009 (via)

Nan A. Talese, president, publisher & editorial director of the Nan A. Talese imprint at Doubleday, is retiring at the end of the year after a career spanning more than 60 years.

Maya Mavjee, president and publisher, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, said, "While she is a pioneer in publishing, Nan is first and foremost a reader, and her passion for books is well-known. She has made a lasting mark on the world of American letters, all the while remaining a cherished and dedicated colleague. Most important, Nan has been a fierce advocate for her authors and their books. Her vast intellect as well as her editorial and publishing acumen will be sorely missed."

Madeline McIntosh, CEO, Penguin Random House U.S., said, "From my first days of selling her list a few decades ago and onward, it has always been a supreme honor to work with Nan and to be connected to her books. Nan's brilliance, generosity of spirit, and editorial expertise have changed the bookselling world at large. We will all miss working with her immensely."

Talese began her book publishing career in 1959 when she left Vogue and joined Random House as a copy editor. She was later promoted to literary editor, the first woman in that position, working with writers such as A.E. Hotchner and Robert Penn Warren, among others.

She then went to Simon & Schuster, where she edited Schindler's List by Thomas Keneally, and Houghton Mifflin, where she acquired The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood and The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy.

Since starting her imprint at Doubleday in 1990, Graham has published a stellar list of authors, including Atwood, Ian McEwan, Adam Haslett, Alex Kotlowitz, Pat Conroy, Thomas Keneally, Mia Farrow, Jim Crace, Valerie Martin, Peter Ackroyd, Mary Morris, Louis Begley, Jennifer Egan, Mark Richard, Judy Collins, Barry Unsworth, Antonia Fraser, Thomas Cahill, Janet Wallach and George Plimpton.

In 2005, Talese was the first recipient of the Center for Fiction's Maxwell E. Perkins Award for lifetime achievement.

Margaret Atwood commented: "No editor has seen so many changes and done so much in publishing as the legendary and much beloved Nan Talese, known fondly to some as 'the Nanster.' She first came into my life at Simon & Schuster, then dragged me behind her troika as she galloped through the wilderness to Houghton Mifflin--where she acquired The Handmaid's Tale sight unseen, in a preemptive bid--and then sashayed over to Doubleday. 'Nanster, what are you doing?' I cried in dismay. 'I like a challenge,' she said calmly, adjusting her white beret and trademark pearls. I can't imagine her actually 'retiring.' It's a figure of speech. She will continue reading, and reading my work, I hope, and offering commentary: 'None of these people are very nice.' "

How Bookstores Are Coping: Reconfiguring Spaces, Displays; Supporting Black Bookstores

Eileen McGervey, owner of One More Page Books in Arlington, Va., has not yet reopened her store for browsing. She and her team are still providing curbside pick-up, home delivery and shipping, and for the most part, customers and the broader community have been understanding about the decision. With the shop's doors still closed, One More Page has switched to a robust schedule of virtual events and book clubs to keep customers, authors and the store connected.

Looking ahead, McGervey and the One More Page staff are figuring out how to best reconfigure the store's space to allow for both socially distant browsing and ample room for processing orders. Some of the store's fun display pieces will likely not make the cut, and the team will put an emphasis on displaying books face-out and using fewer pieces of furniture. McGervey added that "shipping, curbside pick-up and local delivery orders will continue to pay the bills," and she's been fortunate to see online and phone sales continue strong.

McGervey said the store has been very lucky in that most community members have been wearing masks since the beginning. It also helps that masks are currently required in Virginia for anyone over the age of 10.

Following the murder of George Floyd in late May, One More Page paused its social media and rescheduled its virtual events to acknowledge the "violence against people of color." It felt totally wrong, McGervey noted, to promote books and events not related to the protests and wider issues being discussed. Like many other stores, One More Page saw a huge demand for antiracist titles; all of the store's top books in June were related to that topic, except for one title written by one of the store's booksellers.

The team set up window displays featuring relevant titles and books by authors of color. So many people stopped to examine them that QR codes were added to the displays so passersby could immediately order the books. One More Page also promoted these titles in its store newsletter and encouraged shoppers to order them from local, Black-owned bookstores like Mahogany Books, Loyalty Bookstores and Sankofa Video Books & Cafe. One More Page also donated 10% of sales for a week to the Black Emotional and Mental Health Collective. McGervey plans to continue these initiatives indefinitely.


Downtown Books in Craig, Colo., has fully reopened, reported owner Liane Davis-Kling. The 1,000-square-foot store has a full-service coffee bar, and she and her staff wear masks when they make drinks for customers and they've removed a table so that the others can be six feet apart. 

She said her community is "halfway on board" with wearing masks, and noted that her store is located in northwest Colorado--42 miles west of Steamboat Springs, 120 miles east of Vernal, Utah, 41 miles south of Baggs, Wyo., and 48 miles north of Meeker, Colo. Typically, masks are not worn unless required.

Davis-Kling added that her store was far from protests in Grand Junction or the Front Range, and one of her former students planned a protest for the Friday after Memorial Day that drew roughly 75 people. She has, she continued, ordered more books by Black authors. Around 80%-85% of the store's inventory is donated, she explained, and she is making an ongoing effort to bring in more diverse books.


On Mercer Island, Wash., Island Books has reopened for browsing, albeit with scaled-back hours due to lower traffic and demand. 

Store owner Laurie Raisys and her team are following Washington State's Phase 2 guidelines. All employees are wearing masks, and all customers must wear masks, with disposable masks available for those who don't have their own. Hand sanitizer is available in store, employees wash their hands frequently and there are spaces marked near the counter to illustrate social distancing. Generally speaking, Raisys reported, her community is mostly on board with things like wearing face masks, and their requirements have met with very little resistance.

When protests began in late May following the murder of George Floyd, the local police department warned the store about the possibility of violent protests. As a precaution, Raisys and her team removed some sentimental, historical and irreplaceable items from the store, but thankfully violence never materialized. In response to the protests, which Raisys said she and her team "completely support," they posted about them on social media and created in-store displays featuring related books.

International Update: Lockdown Again for Readings in Australia, French Indie Initiatives

In Australia, strict lockdown measures have been reimposed in Melbourne as authorities scramble to prevent a second Covid-19 wave from spreading. Readings owner Mark Rubbo offered an update on the company's current status: "Like all Melbournians we found the recent announcement of a six-week lockdown terribly disappointing but the speed with which the virus can spread makes the decision completely understandable."

In the interests of public health and safety, Readings has closed most of its shops to public browsing. These include the Carlton, Kids, Hawthorn, Malvern and St. Kilda locations, which have returned to offering curbside pick-up with reduced trading hours and special conditions. Readings Doncaster currently remains open with reduced trading hours. Due to the temporary closure of the State Library Victoria, Readings State Library shop is closed until further notice.

"We do think books and music are pretty important to our well-being so we won't be closing down completely," Rubbo noted. "You'll be able to order online or come to our doors with requests and to pick up your phone orders, but sadly you won't have the pleasure of browsing and discovering in-store for six weeks. We will monitor the situation closely and make changes if circumstances allow.... Thank you so much for your ongoing support during this difficult time. We look forward to seeing you in our shops again at a safer point in the near future."


In its weekly newsletter, the European and International Booksellers Federation reported that a French "buy local" campaign has been launched by the French Bookstore Association (Le Syndicat de la Librairie Française) to encourage readers to visit independent bookshops across the country. Through the initiative, booksellers can reaffirm to customers that they know how to meet the expectations that were more challenging to address during the lockdown period, namely recommending books and being a place for discovery and escape.

Carried out with the support of the agencies O'Culture and Lonsdale, the initiative will feature advertisements in newspapers and magazines, radio spots, digital display in stations and the metro, as well as animations on the Web and social media.

In addition, between October 17 and November 20, bookshops in France can participate in "Donnez à lire," an initiative that aims to provide books to children and teens who do not have access to them. Last year, about 300 bookshops participated and collected more than 4,000 books. Events in bookstores (workshops, evenings, etc.) around reading also took place, allowing children and their families to discover, for some, a bookstore and forge links with their bookseller.


115th Anniversary Chalkboard: Muirs Bookshop

"It's another milestone for the bookshop." Congratulations to New Zealand bookseller Muirs Bookshop in Gisborne, which is celebrating a milestone anniversary with a very special sidewalk chalkboard message:

Happy Birthday to us!
115 years old
Two world wars √
Spanish Flu √
On-line shopping √
Kindle √
Covid-19 ???

Illustrated Guide to Online Indie Bookstore Shopping: Interabang Books

Posted yesterday on Facebook by Interabang Books, Dallas, Tex.: "Audio books, e-books, and books on paper are available anytime via! Share the message that you can shop online and still #shoplocal #supportlocalnow. If a book is in print, we can get it to you direct from our distributor!"

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Michele Harper on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Michele Harper, author of The Beauty in Breaking: A Memoir (Riverhead Books, $27, 9780525537380).

The View repeat: Chris Wallace, co-author of Countdown 1945: The Extraordinary Story of the Atomic Bomb and the 116 Days That Changed the World (Avid Reader Press/Simon & Schuster, $30, 9781982143343).

Late Show with Stephen Colbert repeat: John Dickerson, author of The Hardest Job in the World: The American Presidency (Random House, $30, 9781984854513).

This Weekend on Book TV: Michael Signer on Cry Havoc

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 this weekend from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Monday and focuses on political and historical books as well as the book industry. The following are highlights for this coming weekend. For more information, go to Book TV's website.

Saturday, July 11
5:50 p.m. Michael Signer, author of Cry Havoc: Charlottesville and American Democracy Under Siege (PublicAffairs, $28, 9781541736153), at Harvard Book Store in Cambridge, Mass.

7 p.m. Tara Burton, author of Strange Rites: New Religions for a Godless World (PublicAffairs, $28, 9781541762534), at the Strand in New York City. (Re-airs Sunday at 11 a.m.)

Sunday, July 12
12:55 p.m. Casey Sherman and Dave Wedge, authors of Hunting Whitey: The Inside Story of the Capture & Killing of America's Most Wanted Crime Boss (Morrow, $28.99, 9780062972545), at Brookline Booksmith in Brookline, Mass.

9 p.m. Dinesh D'Souza, author of United States of Socialism (All Points Books, $29.99, 9781250163783). (Re-airs Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

10 p.m. Ezekiel J. Emanuel, author of Which Country Has the World's Best Health Care? (PublicAffairs, $30, 9781541797734), at Politics and Prose in Washington, D.C.

11 p.m. Mark Blyth, co-author of Angrynomics (Agenda Publishing, $30, 9781788212786).

Books & Authors

Awards: RSL Christopher Bland Winner

Michele Kirsch won the £10,000 (about $12,530) RSL Christopher Bland Prize, which honors a debut novelist or nonfiction writer first published at age 50 or over, for Clean: A story of addiction, recovery and the removal of stubborn stains.

Chair of judges Yasmin Alibhai-Brown said: "Reading books by authors over 50 was a hugely exciting adventure. The range of subjects and writing styles truly impressed the judges. The winning book is beautifully crafted and written, filled with darkness and light, compelling.  We go with the writer Michele Kirsch, as she fights addiction with honesty and humor. And, like her, come away changed forever."

Noting that she was "delighted and honored" to win, Kirsch observed: "The fact that this award is specifically for first books by authors over 50 is proof that those of us who get algorithm pop-up adverts for potions that diminish the physical signs of decrepitude still have something to say. Clean could not have been written had I not lived through the experience. When you are older, you are more comfortable with your own writing voice, and for me, that meant feeling okay about tackling a very serious and sometimes tragic subject matter with some levity."

IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:

Hardcover: An Indies Introduce Title
The Falling Woman: A Novel by Richard Farrell (Algonquin Books, $26.95, 9781616208578). "Imagine finding out that you have terminal cancer and are faced with the decision of whether or not to seek treatment. The next thing you know, you are the only survivor of a plane crash and no one knows who you are or how you survived. Well-written and plausible, The Falling Woman is a story about a woman who decides to take control of the rest of her life in an unconventional way for the benefit of herself and her family." --Lauren Zimmerman, The Writer's Block Bookstore, Winter Park, Fla.

Broken People: A Novel by Sam Lansky (Hanover Square Press, $27.99, 9781335013934). "Broken People tells one man's deeply personal story of confronting insecurities, obsessions, and frustrations while challenging many current cultural constructs. The pain and self-doubt will be recognized by many a reader, who will in equal measure cheer and thank Lansky for sharing a hopeful journey to forgiveness." --Linda McLoughlin Figel, pages: a bookstore, Manhattan Beach, Calif.

Leading Men: A Novel by Christopher Castellani (Penguin Books, $17, 9780525559078). "Make yourself an Aperol Spritz (or an entire pitcher) and find a comfortable chair because you're going to spend the afternoon reading Leading Men by Christopher Castellani. Tennessee Williams was a genius--charming, brilliant, and powerful--but he was hell to live with and even harder to love, a challenge even for the man who loved him best, Frank Merlo. Castellani's fourth novel brings to life not only their fraught relationship, but also the gritty glamour of their time. It's a rich and gorgeous party whose guests include Truman Capote, Luchino Visconti, and you. Fortunately, you have that Aperol Spritz. Salut!" --Michael Barnard, Rakestraw Books, Danville, Calif.

For Ages 4 to 8
The Starkeeper by Faith Pray (Random House, $17.99, 9781984892706). "What a gorgeously illustrated book about the power of kindness! This book shows kids that no matter how small or inexperienced, they are able to effect real and important change in our world just by being kind." --Melissa Taylor, E. Shaver, Bookseller, Savannah, Ga.

For Ages 9 to 12
The Girl and the Witch's Garden by Erin Bowman (Simon & Schuster, $17.99, 9781534461581). "Erin Bowman has perfectly captured both the magic and loneliness of being a kid. A creepy house, a daring rescue, a magic portal, a secret garden--this book has everything that the best books of my childhood had. The characters are vibrant and real, and their problems take more than magic to solve--though the magic definitely helps!" --Megan Szmyd, Old Firehouse Books, Fort Collins, Colo.

For Teen Readers: An Indies Introduce Title
Stay Gold by Tobly McSmith (HarperTeen, $18.99, 9780062943170). "Pony and Georgia will steal your heart in this gentle gem of an #OwnVoices contemporary young adult novel about a transgender teen who wants his body to match his identity and the girl who slowly but steadily falls for him. Stay Gold is one of those rare novels that reads easily and has comic romantic appeal, but punches hard realism into your gut. Reminiscent of the nuanced storytelling in K.A. Holt's Redwood and Ponytail, the novel is both accessible and humorous, yet deeply moving and emotional as Pony and Georgia balance being true to themselves with the often-destructive expectations of family and friends. Hopeful, heartfelt, and very needed." --Joy Preble, Brazos Bookstore, Houston, Tex.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, July 14:

The Bohemians: The Lovers Who Led Germany's Resistance Against the Nazis by Norman Ohler (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28, 9781328566300) chronicles a young German couple who worked against the Nazis in Berlin.

Carville's Cure: Leprosy, Stigma, and the Fight for Justice by Pam Fessler (Liveright, $28.95, 9781631495038) tells the story of the only leprosy colony in the continental United States.

Cajun Justice by James Patterson and Tucker Axum (Grand Central, $29, 9781538752357) is a thriller about a Cajun ex-Secret Service agent in Tokyo.

The Lantern Men by Elly Griffiths (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $27, 9780358237044) is the 12th mystery with forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway.

The Fell of Dark by Caleb Roehrig (Feiwel & Friends, $17.99, 9781250155849) features a young man sick to death of living in a "vampire town"--even his crush is a (very hot) vampire boy.

Diana and the Island of No Return by Aisha Saeed (Random House, $16.99, 9780593174470) is the first in a middle-grade Wonder Woman series.

Republic of Lies: American Conspiracy Theorists and Their Surprising Rise to Power by Anna Merlan (Metropolitan Books, $17.99, 9781250231277).

Book Review

Review: The Death of Vivek Oji

The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi (Riverhead Books, $27 hardcover, 256p., 9780525541608, August 4, 2020)

Returning to adult fiction after the success of their 2019 National Book Award finalist YA novel Pet, Nigerian writer Akwaeke Emezi brings readers a deep, tender look at a family unraveling around the tragic and early loss of someone they loved but never understood. 

"They burned down the market on the day Vivek Oji died," the first chapter says in its arresting entirety. The narrative then steps back in time to Vivek's father, Chika, in his youth, years before he "would discover exactly how difficult it was to dig his own grave with the bones of his son." He falls in love with Indian immigrant Kavita, and the birth of their only child follows soon after Chika's brother, Ekene, and his wife, Mary, have their son Osita. The idyll ends when Chika and Ekene's mother, Ahunna, dies the same day Kavita gives birth.

Born with a starfish-shaped birthmark on his foot identical to a scar his grandmother had on hers, Vivek comes into the world "after death and into grief." As a tween, he suffers from inexplicable blackouts, and his father considers him too sensitive. As an older teen, Vivek finds solace and love among friends who accept him and in his impossible yet undeniably passionate relationship with Osita. When Vivek's fabric-wrapped corpse is left on his parents' doorstep without explanation, Kavita desperately searches for explanations about his life and death, while Osita grapples with how much of the truth he should tell. 

By turns raw and gentle, this gorgeous #ownvoices drama features a cast of diverse nationalities, sexual orientations and gender identities. The mixture of third- and first-person narration reconstructs a life, largely from secondhand accounts. Emezi (Freshwater) beautifully captures an ordinary family in all its loving, hurtful, messy glory, then thoughtfully demonstrates that pressure placed on one member can backfire and undermine the entire unit. They also play on the reader's expectations of a transgender person's experience to create a surprising resolution to the mystery of Vivek's death. Although the motives and the method will probably seem foregone conclusions to readers, a few skillful bits of misdirection make the truth even more affecting when it does emerge. A spot-on pick for thoughtful book club discussion, The Death of Vivek Oji wraps up heartache with hope. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

Shelf Talker: In this #ownvoices novel from National Book Award finalist Akwaeke Emezi, a grieving family searches for answers when its youngest member is found dead.

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